For husband and wife team, Chuong and Stephanie Van Dang, the lockdown over the past year has resulted in the start of a new business venture, Yum Seng – a successful dim sum and cocktail meal kit business based in Lambeth.
Yum Seng means “Cheers” in Cantonese.
After Chuong and Stephanie moved house, they missed their local dim sum restaurants and couldn’t find any that compared, so they decided to start their own.
They signed up to the Start-ups in London Libraries (SiLL) programme at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre (BIPC) to help get their business off the ground and turn their idea into reality.
Chuong said: “Start-ups in London Libraries was instrumental in giving us the confidence to flesh out an idea, develop it into a viable business plan and then launch as a commercial business.
“We’ve learnt a lot from their workshops and were inspired by other entrepreneurs that we had met along the way.
“Our local small business champion, Rachel Samuels, was also incredible. She identified and introduced me to other council departments that could help.
“She also helped me successfully apply for grant funding and gave me the confidence in myself and my idea, which was a massive and much needed morale boost.”
The British Library Business & IP Centre provides virtual courses, workshops, access to business and market research information, and one-to-one mentorship to help them, either for free or at a low cost. An impressive one million people have come through its doors since it was founded in 2006.
In the past year, the BIPC was able to pivot its courses and workshops to be fully online, supporting about 26,000 business owners during the pandemic.
Equally strong is their track record of being inclusive and diverse: more than half who use it are women, and a third are from underrepresented backgrounds.
The BIPC expanded to other libraries in the country several years ago through the Start-ups in London Libraries programme.
They are providing free support for start-ups online and in 10 boroughs including Lewisham, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark.
Chuong and Stephanie still keep in touch with other start-ups that the BIPC has helped, and keep abreast about how they are progressing.
Yum Seng have recently started working with Letterbox Cocktails’, a cocktail delivery business by the people behind Bar Three Eight Four in Coldharbour Lane.
They also have plans to collaborate with local breweries.
We can’t wait to see what comes next for Yum Seng, one of almost 2500 businesses who have been through Start-ups in London Libraries since 2019.
- For more on Start-ups in London Libraries, visit bl.uk/SiLL
- To find out more about the BIPC, go to bl.uk/BIPC
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